NewsCrime and Courts


Prosecutors present phone tracking and calls in Lori Bray murder trial

Lori Bray
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Posted at 8:27 AM, Mar 19, 2021

Prosecutors presented new video surveillance evidence and satellite tracking data of the cell phones of Lori Bray and her accused killer Diego Hernandez in day four of the Laurel murder trial.

Troy Charbonneau of Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office used range to tower data from Verizon cell towers to track the locations of Bray’s phone during the early morning hours of October 1, 2019, when she was killed.

Charbonneau was able to find seven locations where Bray’s phone had been from midnight to 3 a.m. The first location was around the Cedar Ridge Casino where Bray was employed.

Other location pings came from the area of Hernandez’s residence, the location where Bray’s car was found and the location where her body was discovered.

Charbonneau said that at 1:36 p.m., Bray’s phone stopped moving. This was at the location of where Bray’s son Justin Smith had initially found her car abandoned on the side of the road.

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Detective Troy Charbonneau

A similar tower location tracker was used for Hernandez’s phone, but it gleaned no useful location information, Charbonneau said. He believed that Hernandez’s cellular service had been shut off prior to that night, as he was using a pre-paid phone plan.

Warrants were requested to Apple and Google to access the phone records of Bray. Charbonneau said that the records that dated back one year show that Bray and Hernandez did not communicate by cell phone.

The second witness, Michael Fegely, a cellular geolocation analysis expert, also showed similar findings in where Bray’s phone had been the day of her death.

Patrick Korb, officer for the Billings Police Department, testified that very little information was found on Hernandez’s phone during his investigation.

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Officer Patrick Korb

Hernandez did not have many calls or contacts on his phone besides Nick O’Neil. Calls and messages between the two confirmed that O’Neil and Hernandez were in some sort of argument, as the defense stated in day one of the trial.

Korb questioned O’Neil and found that he and Hernandez did “scuffle” for a few seconds, but O’Neil did not cause any of the injuries that Hernandez had to his face and body. Medical experts testified Wednesday that those wounds were likely defensive, and DNA likely belonging to Hernandez was found underneath Bray's fingernails.

Korb found two Google searches on Hernandez’s phone that he said were interesting. The first read “how long do investigations last,” and the second read “is there a limit to how many years they can investigate someone." In the rear driver's side seat and floorboard, detectives found two bags or purses owned by Bray, along with her pants, jacket, panties, and bra.